Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

Poems by Bud Smith

Left-handed Scissors

items at my desk:
black wax skulls,
golden eagle keys
framed photographs of bears
eating the tame animals circling
in for an endless sleep

it’s okay to crash land you know …
bubblegum pops.
test pilots fall from clouds
like awkward rocks.

everything comes easy
’cause no one has to see
how much you bleed for it
s’all just pancake syrup
s’all just Dollar Store Gadgets
wind-up whirly birds, left-handed scissors
Tokyo calculators. Ramen Noodle by the pallet.

but—I don’t disappear in a smoke screen,
ducking through a doorway of moonlight
I found the chair I sit in unoccupied
because it’s an ejector seat
my friends all used the same entrance…
they come by unannounced, bringing debris
others couldn’t stand to keep in their house
we assemble it all into a junk heap
building robot missiles mounted on neon tetra castles
aim them at random—into the maze of our lives

the other day someone asked
“What’s wrong with society?”
I said, “Society is full of too many people
who’ve never built their own roller-coaster.”

The White Light Bridge

at the end of the street
is the white light bridge
one morning in the fog
I walked across it.
People in cars sat in gridlock
not even singing aloud
with their stereos.
A girl on a bicycle passed
at what felt like warp speed
horns rang out
a voice shouted, “Move!”
the fog grew.
I was out of work at the time
and in no great hurry
I stopped and watched
tug boats moving along slow
on the silver river below us
I noticed the safety nets
for the jumpers
and thought about
trapeze artists, falling
after missing
mistimed handgrips.
The White Light Bridge Circus.
suspension lines, box trucks
lions, elbows hanging out, tailpipes,
windshield wipers, elephants.

In the middle
there’s a sign that says,
‘Welcome to New Jersey”
half the river, half the air
half the traffic, the fish below
cross this line, at your own peril

I’m going to a wall of black rock
and the park up top
an observation point, view glass,
feed a quarter into the mouth
and I can look into my
own apartment window
over there in the city
I’d have liked to see my wife
at our yellow table
drinking the last of the coffee

joggers run up the path
birds swoop from branches
a sailboat drifted south
out of place.

on my way back
I ran into the bridge cop
he was leaning on the railing
talking to himself
I wanted to ask
Wouldn’t a jumper
just carry a box cutter
to sever the net?
But I didn’t interrupt.
He never looked up.

Passed the middle divide
the walk was easy now
straight downhill
and then wrapping back around
traffic one way
footpath another
the horns diminished
into a level street
a row of green trees
red brick, fog becoming mist

on the sidewalk
I see a leather wallet
sitting half-open
like an A-framed house

I pick it up
except for the note
taped inside
block letters:


I put the wallet down.



Bud Smith grew up in New Jersey, and currently lives in Washington Heights, NYC with a metric ton of vinyl records that he bought at Englishtown flea market for a dollar. He is the author of the short story collection Or Something Like That (2012), and Tollbooth (Piscataway House 2013); he hosts the interview program The Unknown Show; edits at Jmww and Uno Kudo; works heavy construction in power plants and refineries. Currently, he’s probably watching My Cousin Vinny.


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